Paul Collins writes:
"...but we preach Christ crucified..." 1 Corinthians 1:23.
Something took place at the Cross which, though included in the wonder of our redemption and reconciliation to God, is often overlooked. The Lord took the world and its demands on us and nailed it to the Cross in Christ!
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" Galatians 6:14.
Yet many times we preach a gospel of "Come to Jesus and He will bless you! He will meet all your needs!" Of course He does this. But the Gospel is about a revelation of total change that comes through the Cross. It is a change of lifestyle, a change of direction and a change of focus.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." Romans 12:2.
The vital question for every Christian is: which way are we facing? If we are facing the world, our back is to God. But if we are facing God, our back will be to the world. This is the most fundamental meaning of repentance - to change direction. It is not just a repentance from particular sins that God is after. It is a whole re-orientation of our life - away from sin, away from the world, away from self, and to God.
"With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation'" Acts 2:40 (read also 2 Peter 1:4).
"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" 1 Corinthians 2:2.
The Gospel declares that the old self was crucified (Romans 6:6-7). It is through the old self - the "body of death" (Romans 7:25) - that the enemy exercises his control over human lives. It is in destroying this base of control - the old self - that the Cross has "disarmed" the enemy. When a person steps into Christ and receives the finished work of the Cross, the enemy's power is broken. The only way the enemy can gain control over a Christian's life is when the old self is still unresolved - when our eyes become distracted from the truth of the Gospel.
"...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" Ephesians 5:25-27.
Many other gospels have infiltrated the Church, emptying the Cross of its power in people's lives. God is cleansing His Church from these false gospels. But the answer does not come by pointing our finger at other parts of the Body. No, we are all part of the same Body. We all take joint responsibility before God for the condition of the Church and individually repent from anything contrary to the pure Gospel of Christ. It is by the "washing with water through the word" that God cleanses His Church. It is the preaching of the pure Gospel of the Cross which will eliminate every other gospel from church life.
God is raising up a leadership who are "separated to the gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:1). Like Paul, we can say:
"I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness - the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ" Colossians 1:25-28 (see also Ephesians 3:7-8).
We need to run with the message of the pure Gospel! On every level - in sharing with other leaders and Christians, in preaching to our churches, in evangelism - it is the Gospel which is the power of God!
"...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone" Ephesians 2:20 (see also 4:11-13).
God is restoring the ministry of the apostle and prophet to His Church. But the true apostle and prophet are not solitary ministries. God has called them to work in unity together. They are the foundation upon which God builds the Body of Christ. They are servants, not bosses. They are fathers in the Lord who seek not their own glory but the glory of Christ. As the united voice of the apostle and prophet emerges within the Church:
"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ" Ephesians 4:14-15.
"...until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" Ephesians 4:13.
God's goal in the Gospel is twofold:
The answer to this dying world is "the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4-7). But the way the Gospel is brought into contact with people is through the Church. It is for this reason that Jesus said:
"...I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me.that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.so that the world may believe..." John 17:9,21.
The Church is Christ's priority in prayer even today (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). This is because the answer to a lost world is the Church! It is through a cleansed Church that the Gospel will reach into every corner of this world.
"Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ.so that all nations might believe and obey him - to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen" Romans 16:25-27.
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Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these articles are from the New International Version of the Bible, © New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.
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